Saturday 2016/04/30

From Elbasan to Peshkopia


In the morning during breakfast we talk to two English ladies who are traveling by bus and taxi and are mainly interested in archeology. A very amusing morning entertainment, even though we barely understand one of the two ladies, because she does not try to be straightforward when talking.

When packing the bikes, I chat with the receptionist about the situation in Albania. She tells me that in view of her children's future they are thinking of going abroad. Corruption, legal uncertainty and the inadequate political and social system are causing a lot of trouble for many people here.

After some reflection, we decided to head north again. We still have no real feeling about the distances to travel and we're afraid that we will not have time for the highly recommended trails in northern Albania when we would head south now.

So we head in the direction of Peshkopia to the northeast. Markus motorcycle guide promises an off-road route there. However, this soon turns out to be a fairly wide dirt road, which is very good to ride, but compared to the tours of the past few days it's a little boring. May be the reason for the well prepared dirt road is a huge property halfway?

We arrive in Peshkopia around lunchtime already. We have considered to ride even further to Fushë Lurë, but do not really know if guesthouses are open on that way. At the entrance to Peshkopia I noticed a sign with the words Tourist Info and I follow that sign into the center of the town. The main road is closed at lunchtime for vehicles. I'm talking to a young man, who fortunately can speak English - of course he was already on asylum in Germany, as he will tell me later. I explain to him that I saw the tourist information sign and if he can tell me where it is. I also tell him that I only want information about the guesthouses in Fushë Lurë.

The Tourist Info of Peshopia

We turn off the motorcycles and I go with the young man to look for the tourist information. The signs lead first to a building, but there's nothing what looks like a tourist information. No problem says the young man, we go to the "Cantine sociale" around the corner, where the old men of the town are eagerly playing, smoking and drinking cider. My companion gets an information, which leads us up a hill to a hostel, of which I already read in the travel guide. The entrance gate is locked, but there is a phone number there. My companion calls and gets the information that someone is coming. Hmmmh, only the question is when? Maybe I could have simply got asked of my question on the phone. Alright, we wait. After a short time, a teenager arrives, who probably is responsible for the tourist information today. He opens the gate and sends us first on the terrace of the hostel. After a short time, he opens the door to the hostel office or tourist information. I explain my request to him and get the answer pretty quickly that there are certainly opened guesthouses there. Obviously my question was pretty dumb. The people in the guesthouses live there. They are probably always there and even if someone should get lost in the middle of winter, you will probably still find a place to stay.

All right, back to Markus on the main road.

I ask my local helper/guide for a good restaurant. He says we should ride around the corner to the right with the motorcycles, he will then wait for us and show us a restaurant.

Well, first I have to find Markus. He has now settled on a bench near the motorcycles and is surrounded by an elderly gentleman and three younger Albanians. He had plenty of time to do his own communication. At first, he had some communication to the older man non-verbally in sign language, so that Markus got the impression that the man could not speak. But when the three younger Albanians came to speak to Markus in English, the old man suddenly opened his mouth to speak in Albanian.

It is incredible, this helpfulness and friendliness.

Since my young companion has to wait a while before we get dressed again and put on the motorcycles, we don't stay too long. He is already waiting 10-15 minutes around the corner until we finally meet him again. He points to a restaurant and hotel building that he recommends for lunch and we say goodbye to him. It is incredible, this helpfulness and friendliness.

The lunch in the rather modern restaurant and cafe is delicious.

We decide that we are going to Fushë Lurë. We want to see how far we are coming. Maybe it will work that day. But after about 20 kilometers, we surprisingly come to an off-road trail again, although we would have expected a paved road here for about another 30 kilometers. Since we are going to have quite a few off-road kilometers on the selected route from the south to the Parku Kombëtar Lurë to Fushë Lurë in the north, we decide to turn back, as it is very uncertain whether we would still make it today.

So back to Peskopia for searching a hotel. First, Markus looks at the restaurant/hotel where we had lunch, but the rooms are rather modest. The other hotel on the spot can be found quickly, the rooms are a bit better and it offers a hotel garage. This garage is really in the underground. The ramp into the garage goes down so steeply that you have to retract your head when driving in and out, and after parking I already wonder, how to get out of here the next morning.

In a waste container Markus discovers a little puppy.

After shower we go for an evening walk and treat ourselves to a beer. From the terrace of the café/bar we have an excellent overview of what's going on in town. Some vehicles pass by repeatedly. In addition, a small unofficial minibus station is opposite the street. Markus is particularly interested in why so many cars drive up the street. So we stroll in the same direction to solve the riddle. The houses are partly in miserable condition and probably not much better inside than what we see from the outside. In a waste container Markus discovers a little puppy. Sometimes this poverty and desolation is quite hard to bear.

In the evening we have dinner in the restaurant we already know again.